Making mental health services accessible: St. Catharines Clinic offers free walk-in and group therapy sessions

Victoria Dilts and Christina Scheer of Nomina in downtown St. Catharines are proud to provide free mental health services.

A place where you just need someone to talk to.

This is the philosophy behind Nomina, a center for mental health and addiction services.

Located at 250 King Street in downtown St. Catharines, Nomina offers a free mental health walk-in clinic, as well as free group support sessions.

Victoria Dilts, who runs the clinic at the center in St. Catharines, said these sessions have already proven popular.

“There aren’t many of these resources (in the area) and those that are there tend to have a small waiting list,” she said.

The center offers men’s groups on Monday evenings, women’s groups on Tuesday evenings, and smart recovery for people struggling with addiction on Wednesdays.

Free mental health walk-in clinics are Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Dilts is proud to say that all clinicians at Nomina are trained or certified in trauma.

“Trauma plays such a huge role in everything and so many mental health issues,” she said. “I think sometimes people don’t realize they’ve been through trauma and how it might affect them. So it’s really good for us to have that lens to look through and help the client uncover the things that might be underlying.

Lisa Klco, Nomina’s clinical director, said the company works with other service providers in the area when needed.

“(The walk-in clinic is) meant to be one-session interventions, ie identifying what someone needs and how we can help them,” Klco explained. “This is where we will also work with other community providers to try to make referrals or resources for people who may need longer ongoing care, or who just need a space for someone one can sit and talk and be heard and be seen to be supported. ”

Klco said many people find it difficult to navigate mental health care because many providers work “in silos”.

His goal with Nomina is to break down those barriers.

“That’s why we really try to work collaboratively with other community professionals, whether it’s their existing healthcare team or their other service providers,” she said, “How can we help an entire human function more organically in their environment and support their ongoing work?” Because we really tend to operate on the assumption that all humans are wired to want to be good. But maybe there’s something missing that allows them to access what they need. We’re just trying to understand that and support and work with that collaborative care approach.

As the organization hopes to grow in the city, Dilts said she’s been doing outreach to see which services residents feel need more attention.

“We’re kind of a base in the area,” Dilts said. “We are trying to find out what community resources are needed and what we can do, develop and offer to community members. We’ve had meetings with community partners and we’ve had some great ideas, and we’re continuing to build on that.

Growing up in St. Catharines, Klco said she felt Niagara had a shortage of mental health services.

So when she got involved with Nomina on a national level, she knew she wanted to bring him home.

“I went to school in St Catharines, and we realized there was such a shortage of services in that area that we wanted to open a clinic (there) because we really want health services mental health are accessible and available to everyone,” she says.

Klco hopes people will eventually be able to identify Nomina and feel comfortable visiting their offices for help wherever they are in Canada.

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